When the gang-banger was on trial for nearly killing her brother, Cynthia Santiago wrote a letter to the court asking for leniency.
“We are Christians. We believe in forgiveness,” said Santiago, 31, now an immigration lawyer based in El Segundo. “We prayed for him (the shooter). We prayed God transform his life. I’m not the person to pass that kind of judgment on another human being.”
Santiago said her brother got involved in a race-based altercation at 20th St. and Delaware in Santa Monica in the early 2000s, and he was shot with a 22-caliber gun from close range. One bullet shattered his jaw and another pierced his heart and lung, she said.
He was rushed to St. John’s where he lay unconscious for nearly three weeks. When he woke up, he asked about his kids. After months of physical therapy, he returned to normal life.
Santiago’s extraordinary plea for clemency is part of the troubled past of a Santa Monica once beset by gang violence. Part of the reason she chose law is because she saw her own parents, as working class residents, struggle to get sound legal advice for her troubled brother. Read the rest of the article.
Editor’s Note: Cynthia Santiago was the flower girl in my wedding 25 years ago. My wife and I lost track of her when we spent 16 years in Guatemala as missionaries. When I found her on Facebook 24 years later, I’m surprised to see her all grown up and a lawyer! I praise God she, coming from a family without college students, had the wherewithal to study and achieve a dream. It seems to me that her choice to forgive is extreme and compelling. Her choice to help the neediest who need help only makes me admire her more.
Posted in Christianity, faith, forgiveness
Tagged attorney, Christian school, college, compassion, defense, education, El Segundo, God, immigration, Jesus, Latin, lawyer, Los Angeles, love, mercy, overcoming obstacles, Santa Monica
Nino slept during my class. If not asleep, he was combing his hair. He didn’t turn in homework. Needless to say, this did not ingratiate him with me.
Then, he taught me a valuable lesson. He was talking about racism. Our school embraces people from all backgrounds. He was attacking inappropriate jokes.
He explained how African Americans “empower” themselves by using the N-word. Previously, I didn’t understand why the oppressed used the word of oppression. Nino explained that by employing the evil word in jest, they are stepping on it and affirming their triumph over it.
I rejoice to see that my kids make friends with kids of all races without even apparently noticing. Yet racism remains a problem for our nation. If you google “attractive people” on images, you’ll see a disproportionate amount of whites. Nino says this is because they’re the “de facto” definition of beauty. Strides must be taken to continue to correct the evils of racism.
Everyone has something to teach, no matter how they comb their hair or what irksome habits they have. Every single human being on the planet has a valuable insight, if we will only take the time to listen.
Posted in inspiration
Tagged African American, Christianity, equality, friends, friendship, God, humanity, Jesus, Latin, Lighthouse Christian Academy, love, minorities, Racism, Santa Monica